April 5th, 2009
04:10 PM ET
13 years ago

Axelrod hits back at Cheney: Not behaving like a 'statesman'

(CNN) - Top Obama adviser David Axelrod sharply criticized Dick Cheney's recent contention that the president's national security policies have made the country less safe, suggesting the former vice president is not behaving like a "statesman."

[President Bush] has behaved like a statesman," Axelrod told CNN's John King on State of the Union regarding the former president's decision not to criticize the new administration. "And as I've said before, here and elsewhere, I just don't think the memo got passed down to the vice president."

In an interview on State of The Union last month, Cheney said the president’s decision to reverse a series of the Bush policies with respect to the war on terror was putting the country's national security at risk. (Video below)

"I think those programs were absolutely essential to the success we enjoy, of being able to collect the intelligence that let us defeat all further attempts to launch attacks against the United States since 9/11," he said then. "I think it's a great success story. It was done legally, it was done in accordance with our constitutional practices and principles…"

But in the interview Sunday, Axelrod suggested the Bush Administration terrorism policies had largely failed.

"I find it supremely ironic, on a day when we were meeting with NATO, to talk about the continued threat from al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where they're still plotting against us eight years - or seven years later," he said. "I think the question for Mr. Cheney is, how could that be? How could this have gone so long? Why are they still in business?"

Cheney's blunt criticisms of Obama have differed markedly with comments for President Bush, who in a recent speech said the new president "deserves my silence."

"I'm not going to spend my time criticizing him. There are plenty of critics in the arena," the former president said during a speech in Canada last month.

Filed under: David Axelrod • Extra • State of the Union
soundoff (301 Responses)

    Sarah Palin with her intelligence should be brought into this shat room. Now is she ain't got a brain...who does? Ya mon...Sarah Palinsky...what a picture of intelligence!!! Maybe she can get a part time job at HOOTERS when she is prez...YA?

    April 5, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  2. David

    @Greg – "During President Bush's administration we were not hit by a terrorist attack. That statistic speakes for itself."

    So 09/11/2001 was under the watch of which President? If not Bush, and Clinton was already out of office, which Commander-In-Chief was in office during the falling of the World Trade Center Towers, the destruction of the Pentagon, and the airline crash in Pennsylvania?

    April 5, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  3. Rick

    Leading up to the election, after the election and every day since the inauguration the current administration has criticized the previous administration – every day. The current administration has justified the vast majority of their actions based on the "failures" of the previous administration.

    Now when the former VP criticizes the current administration it's "un-statesmen like"...according to Mr. Axelrod. Alas...Change and Hope ring hollow.

    April 5, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  4. IS IT 2012 YET ?

    Who the !!*+&%!! needs a liberal-approved "Statesman" ? We need someone who will protect the country from loons. Let's all hope Obama is up to that task. It's too late to elect McCain.

    April 5, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  5. Joe

    As a NYer – to all those anti Bush-Cheney people, have you forgotten February 26, 1993. This was the day that the terrorists first tried to take the down the twin towers and attacked us. Who was President – Clinton. What exactly was his response for the next 6 1/2 years to quell this? Nothing. As a result, we get attacked again on September 11, 2001. We have not been attacked since, and there have been plenty of plots disrupted in this country because of what Bush has done. Everybody should 1 time come to NYC to look where the towers used to be. Where we were attacked, and 2,974 innocent ,republican, democrat, independent, foreign business men/women were murdered. If you think that just by merely talking with a group of people, whose belief is to kill westerners, is making you safer, so be it. I do not. The Presidents first and foremost goal is to protect the very people he is leading.

    April 5, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  6. carolflowery

    doesnt axelrod look like Hitler and Obama sounds like Hitler..and just think they are running this country, dang

    April 5, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  7. Ramon

    Cheney, go for it! I applaud your honest sincerity and I also think the Obama Drama team is turning the U.S. into a "France". A real "meow" of a country. I think you and John Bolton should run for President in 2012.

    April 5, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  8. Joe

    Carter would make a habit of sticking his nose into international issues on a regular basis without any official standing. I dont recall any one in the Bush Admin openly trashing him like this. This is another example of the Obama machine using personal attacks to punish any body with any status from daring to critque the mesiah.
    Cheney can comment all he wants. This just shows the insecurity that swirls around inside the new kingdom.

    April 5, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  9. Ray Fisher

    America can feel safe with the President answering the phone!!! Not so witth his predecessors

    April 5, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  10. Jack

    Obama in my opinion, has been nothing but an embarrassment. This European trip has been a disaster for he and the First Lady. They do not know protocol or have the manners and classs that it takes to represent the greatest nation on earth. I would sleep better at night if Dick Cheney were president.

    April 5, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  11. Bill

    You friggin hypocrites!

    Where were you when the Clintons and Carter were doing exactly the same for the past 8 years.!

    Carter ended the so called "Statesman" protocol.

    April 5, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  12. Ken

    N. Korea just provide the America is nobody and Obama statement means nothing. Open Borders to the South, Open borders to the North and lets leave illegals alone?????? I think that tells us America is open game and citizens your on your own. We have seen how well the Obama Administration obeys the laws and how they change them to fit their agenda and how Congress bushes it off as its okay!!! Yea why should any Country listen to Obama bark about someone breaking any policy, when he does.

    April 5, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  13. edward

    He ( Cheney ) continues to act like the attack dog that he was in Bush's kennel. Long after his master left .

    April 5, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  14. Robyn

    Dick Cheney is a thug, a liar, a torturer, a killer of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in his privately promoted wars; and apparently, from new information coming from Joint Special Operations Command, he may have run his own private assassination squads from the Vice President's office like a third rate, third world dictator.

    The American ideals of truth, honor, courage and bravery are as foreign to him as empathy for his many victims is.

    To expect civilized behavior from such a creature is irrational.

    April 5, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  15. George-Ann

    Responding to Greg (April 5,11:14 am) who is weeping for his nation and cannot understand how David Axelrod can be so critical of Cheney's comments on Obama administration when the Bush administration kept us safe. Is he forgetting that the worst terrorist attack on US soil came on 9/11 under the Bush administration. This attack came after constant reports from our own Intelligence that something was being planned and Bin Laden determined to strike America. Greg does have a very short memory.

    April 5, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  16. SueB

    I agree with Axelrod that Cheney shouldn't be criticizing. Don't think Carter, Clinton or Gore should either, but no one seems to care when they criticize Bush or Cheney or any of the administrations policies. I find it ironic that Axelrod thinks Cheney should shut up, but it's OK for him and Obama and Hillary and everyone else to continuously bash the Bush administration and America in general. Even in this interview where he says Cheney should be a stateman and not criticize the new administration, Axelrod proceeds to be a non-stateman and blatantly criticize the past administration.

    April 5, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  17. GP

    What current aministration policies are working? All I see are dollar signs, higher taxes and a lack of intestinal fortitude that threatens US national security. This is progress?

    April 5, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  18. Joe

    To everyone who talks about N. Korea and Obama's soft response: N. Korea launched a communications satellite. Thank God Bush wasn't in office or he would probably have bombed them for this. It wasn't a nuke people!!!!!

    April 5, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  19. JonDie

    Cheney is a criminal who belongs in prison. Bernie Madoff is a very small fish compared to Dick Cheney.

    April 5, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  20. carol

    is doing the exact OPPOSITE of their job. Instead of holding the government accountable they are it's PR wing and lapdog. Totally shameful and disgusting.

    April 5, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  21. Art

    Statesmanship? In washington? I don't think so! The congress and senate are full of self-centered, arrogant, self-indulged hipocrates. Patriotism is a lost art in washington. I hope Mr.Obama can bring some of it back! Please remember when election days role in!

    April 5, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  22. carol

    The ponit some on made earlier was wrong a democrat Clinton was in office when the first attack was made. There were warnings then Just as there were warning about the attack on 9\11. For reason not none to us the puplic they were not taken seriously. Other however were taken seriously. You make the call. Bush has acted like a president. Gore and Cheney have acted like vice presidents. They didn't get the job the first time, so now they speak out on what they think the administron would or should do. Its called hind sight . Its 20\20. My thoughts are if the government is buying all these bussiness equity, with tax payers money. When do the tax payers get a residual from our investments?Just a thought. I mean when you invest, shouldn't you get a return for your money?

    April 5, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  23. Robert

    Lemme see, those nutcases in North Korea just tested a ballistic missile capable of hitting Hawaii. I'd guess that never would have happened under Bush. The thing would have been blasted before it ever took off.

    So, yeah, we're in a bad way now.

    April 5, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  24. Gary T.

    I Agree!
    Dick Cheney is a War Criminal & Should be Tried for Treason!

    April 5, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  25. Kim

    all you hear now from the right is:


    Hey let's apply the last 8 year rule

    if you do not support the president you are not real Americans
    if you are not with him
    you have to be for the terrorists...

    wow..you could be redacted to a pleasant 4th world country and aggressively " asked " a few questions until you confess
    No..wait, we don't torture anymore..shucks...just when it might have been a hoot to watch, we suddenly become sane again

    April 5, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
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